Curiosity is calling
Spark your curiosity as you discover some of Kent’s best-kept secrets and hidden gems in the North of the county. Full of surprises at every turn, it’s an exciting time to explore the area in a completely new light. North Kent is home to the towns of Rochester, Chatham, Faversham, Gillingham, Gravesend and the coastal towns of the Isle of Sheppey, which all continue to surprise and delight visitors. Rich in river heritage, steeped in history and abundant with incredible local produce, the area is ripe for the taking… Be bold, take a risk on the unknown, go on an adventure and make sure you’re a part of this exciting transformation.
A trip to North Kent wouldn’t be complete without a fascinating local history lesson, so head to The Historic Dockyard Chatham for dramatic exhibits including a climb-on-board Victorian sloop and a Cold War submarine. In Gillingham, the compelling Royal Engineers Museum reveals an absorbing heritage and Fort Amherst is Britain's largest Napoleonic fortress.
Experience a spiritual moment as you walk through the pages of history at Rochester Cathedral, a church that has been celebrating Christian worship since 604AD. With its breathtaking architecture, beautifully refurbished crypt and stunning library collection, it’s not to be missed. While nearby Gravesend has links with the far flung shores of America as the burial place of the iconic Pocahontas. Leave the Disney tales behind, visit her final resting place and let her statue tell you the true story of her journey from Virginia to Gravesend.
North Kent is also perfect for exploring the literary connections of Charles Dickens, with Gad’s Hill Place in Higham once being his place of residence, the buildings of Rochester often making their way into his novels and The Leather Bottle in Cobham having been one of his favourite watering holes.
The North Kent landscape is ripe with fresh produce, from hops and grapes to some incredible farmland. Bursting with delicious delights, the area is a real culinary treat and perfect for any foodie aficionado. The pretty market town of Faversham boasts an impressive reputation for fine food and excellent local produce and is well worth a trip when you’re ready to tantalise those taste buds. While nearby Gravesend’s Borough Market is the perfect stop off for everything from crafts, to street food and sensational seasonal events.
Head to Faversham’s Macknade Fine Foods, a leading food hall for everything from craft beers to exotic fruit and fresh bread to local wines. Make sure you stop for brunch or lunch at the excellent on-site café and check out the hundreds of delicious cheeses at the delicatessen. Also in Faversham is the Brogdale Collections, home of the National Fruit Collection and set in 150 acres of Kentish farmland. Take an expert guided tour of the bountiful orchards, join in with the fruit-picking and enjoy plenty of seasonal events.
North Kent leaves you spoiled for choice for a delicious evening meal with an excellent range of restaurants, bars and gastro pubs. Head to local brewery Shepherd Neame’s The Sun Inn (or any one of Shepherd Neame’s delightful pubs for that matter) where centuries of stories await in a beautiful old town-centre inn. Looking for something a little different? Micropub,The Admiral’s Arm in Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey offers the perfect taste of tradition and history – perfect for that digital detox (for an hour or two at least).
Can we let you in on a little-known secret? North Kent is home to many Blue-Flag and award-winning beaches on the beautiful Isle of Sheppey. Dubbed Kent's ‘Treasure Island’, the Isle of Sheppey offers adventure, escape and unspoilt, serene beaches just waiting to be discovered. Head to the Blue-Flag awarded Leysdown Beach for family friendly sands and traditional seaside amusements or grab an ice cream and stroll by the pretty beach huts of Minster Leas. While at Warden Point, the hunt is on, with shark teeth, snake skeletons and crustaceans all to be found on a fossil hunt.
Out on the rivers
A knot of towns with a powerful history, looped along the tidal reaches of the River Medway provide the perfect no-nonsense mix of ancient and modern. Medway is one of Kent’s most aspiring and developing destinations with a rapidly emerging cultural scene married with a rich and celebrated history. The three major towns - Chatham with its maritime and military heritage, Rochester with its iconic castle and cathedral and Gillingham with its engineering background - all have their own unique place in history, but together they provide a diverse and exciting shared story.
Further into North Kent, in Gravesend, Thames sailing barges, paddle steamers and yachts sail the Thames from the Gravesend Town Pier Pontoon so you can take in the industrial landscapes whilst enjoying a cruise along the river. Just a stone’s throw from Gravesend you can also enjoy superb shopping and delightful dining with more than 330 shops, 40 restaurants and even a 13 screen cinema at Bluewater, Europe's largest shopping centre – perfect for when you’re in the mood for a lot of retail therapy.
North Kent is home to a wide variety of stunning nature reserves, plentiful with wildlife and set under vast and soul-stirring skies. Elmley on the Isle of Sheppey is a huge National Nature Reserve, with peaceful meadows and waterways to explore, and incredible wildlife to observe. At Elmley you are likely to see water birds wading in the ponds, magnificent birds of prey soaring above, hares bounding across the meadows, as well as a butterflies, dragonflies and bees exploring the waterways and wildflowers. The Reserve, on a family-run farm, is also renowned for its new Shepherds Hut accommodations - just perfect for nature lovers, the huts offer unique and luxurious hideaways where you can enjoy a romantic night under the stars. But if you’re looking for even more luxury, the light and spacious Elmley Cottage should be top of your list for a group getaway.
Fancy a pint? Britain's oldest brewer can be found in Faversham, Kent, where beer has been produced for over 850 years. The Shepherd Neame Brewery is open to visitors year-round and a guided tour will take you through the heart of this busy family-run brewery to see how beer is made - from barley to bottle and from hop to hand-pump!
For more hand-crafted beers alongside a mouth-watering menu, make sure you head to nearby Chatham where contemporary bar and kitchen Pier 5 is the new waterside dining destination for discerning beer and food fans. Fancy yourself a gin connoisseur? A two minute walk across the marina will lead you into the welcoming home of local Dockyard Gin. Tour the gleaming Copper Rivet Distillery and sample your favourite tipple, from vodka to grain spirit.